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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Toomer's Corner trees: Just the latest debacle in SEC land

The poisoning of the trees at Toomer’s corner, and the reaction it’s getting, would seem to just be the latest “only in the SEC” moment for the league. Except for the utter ridiculousness of the whole thing.

The action itself, apparently by a lunatic Alabama fan, was both vicious and stupid. The reaction by some Auburn fans – equating it to the murder of a relative – doesn’t help.

You might say this is an Alabama thing. Sure, it looks worse in that state, especially after one arch-rival answered the other’s national championship.

But we’ve all been around the SEC long enough to know it’s not totally limited to one state. Just last night I witnessed grown men berate three basketball officials as they walked off the court, with at least one object (I think it was a towel) going in their direction.
And just imagine if that happened in football.

There’s an obsession these days to try to find a “teachable moment.” I’m not sure this will be it, because in a few days everyone will have moved on to the next big topic.

But in this part of the world, some people – specifically, fans, administrators and media that cover the SEC – should be wondering if its time to try and get a handle on things.

People around the country are shaking their heads at the SEC. They have been for awhile. They admire the passion and success the league has in football. But most also see the other stuff – the scandals, the NCAA investigations, the tree-poisoning – and form judgments that reinforce stereotypes about the South. Fair or not, that’s the case.

Meanwhile, those of us down here also shake our heads, laugh and move on to the next big story that really shouldn’t be a big story.

Everyone’ s a bit guilty. The league and its schools try to keep things in balance, but do so while cashing huge checks from CBS, ESPN and other outlets.

Most fans, on an individual basis, are reasonable. But the ones calling talk radio and posting on blogs and message boards sometimes have trouble keeping their rhetoric in line. And a lot of these fans never actually attended the schools they’re so emotionally invested in.

Those of us in the media aren’t totally innocent either. Radio hosts talk about anything that will drive calls. Writers and editors, those of us who should be the keepers of the journalistic flame, are lately now more worried about stories that produce web hits and reader comments.

Part of the problem is there isn’t too much else going on down here: Pro teams are limited to Atlanta, Nashville and Florida. Then again, the presence of the Braves, Falcons and Hawks doesn’t tamp down interest in the Bulldogs. (Whose fans, since I cover this beat, I will now point out are all civil and rational. At least most of the time. ... And as long as I'm using parenthesis, I should also point out that I attended a non-SEC school, Maryland, whose basketball fans have been known to take it too far.)

Look, the SEC is a great league because of the passion down here. But how much passion is acceptable? How far do you push? Are we covering/working/rooting at schools that happen to have football teams, or creeping dangerously close to European soccer?

We all just need to take a deep breath, and get a grip. Today a few trees, tomorrow a team mascot, the next day …


Anonymous said...

"People around the country are shaking their heads at the SEC."

Perhaps. But those same people are laughing like hell at the State of Alabama with good reason.

Bulldawg said...

I'll be the first to say it.


Screw Auburn.
Screw Nick "the thug" Fairley. Screw Gene "i allow thugs" Chizik.

Screw the whole damn state.

Anonymous said...

Seth, I assume you have been to other sporting events outside of the SEC. This kind of behavior is in no way limited to the SEC. Go to an NFL game anywhere outside of the Southeast and get a taste of the behavior of NFL fans.

There were gang fights after the UCLA/USC game this year during which people were stabbed. Parking lots were boxing rings after the Raiders/Chargers game this year.

Sports fans are out of control everywhere. Always have been. Always will be.

New York Dawg said...

Way to take the high road on a blog about civility and being rational there bulldawg. I hate Auburn and most other teams wearing orange or yellow as much as anyone but this was just criminal. I live in the frozen north now and only see live oaks when I travel home but to kill 100 year old trees with industrial herbicide out of spite warrants serious time making big rocks into small rocks to me. Now if he had written roll tide with roundup in Gene Chizik’s front yard, I’d probably think it was funny.

Anonymous said...

Please do not reference the entire SEC for this crazy event. Alabama people are crazy about football, because there is nothing else going on over there. Crazy breeds crazier. In fact today, I called one of my Georgia Tech friends (okay, there is only one), and told him I appreciated him for not being chemically imbalanced crazy like just about all of the Alabama fans I unfortunately know. With apologies to Forest Gump, "Crazy is as Crazy does."

Anonymous said...

Guess I struck a cord with Seth about not being from SEC country. My post was deleted. You sir are a sham. The passion of the SEC ensures you can blog away. Try that in the A she she or The Big 2. You would starve.

Bulldawg said...

New York Dawg-

I love trees, esp old oaks, and no, trust me I would never, ever do this, let alone over sports.

But, I didn't do it and it was done to Auburn.

So hell yeah I will scream from the rooftops, screw you Auburn!

Screw you Fairley, you dirty, nasty, thug of a player!

And screw you Gene Chizik for allowing dirty, nasty, stinky, thugs of players.

Bulldawg said...

Oh, and screw you Scam Newton. Just more trash out of a trashy, in-town Atlanta High School.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, graduate of a non-SEC school whose fans are best known for chanting "F- You" at opposing basketball players.

Bryant Sims said...

I understand there were some things that took place after this years iron bowl that precipitated the killing of these trees. As a matter of fact the killing of these trees might be considered mild compared to some of the pro ported actions of AU fans. Any way you cut it... I'm glad to be a GEORGIA dawg!

Anonymous said...

Seth, I knew you would go there because you are not from the south and it's impossible for folks not from here to understand that SEC football teams are loved more because people like SEC football more than NFL football. It is ridiculous for you to try to rationalize this fact by citing limited NFL team exposure. Southerners just like the college football game better. When you said "And a lot of these fans never actually attended the schools they’re so emotionally invested in" you proved that you just don't get it. Most people I know believe the NFL game is inferior and full of effeminate brats who care nothing for the fans. You are going to have to accept these facts because you sound preachy and disconnected with the SEC fanbase.